Welcome to The Child Repair Guide! I’m Dr. Steve Silvestro and I am so excited to have you here! Now before we start this journey together, I thought that you might want to know a bit more about me and about what we’re going to do together with this podcast.
I am a board-certified pediatrician and I practice in the Washington, DC area. I grew up in New Jersey and came to DC to attend Georgetown University, having studied there for undergrad, medical school, and my pediatric residency. I practice general pediatrics, taking care of kids from birth all the way up to age 25. I’m also what’s called a “physician harvester” in Georgetown University Hospital’s Blood & Marrow Collection Program—meaning that when people donate their bone marrow, I perform the procedure to collect it. That bone marrow is then used for transplant in both adults and children around the globe.
But my most important job is being a dad. So, I know the day-to-day challenges of being a parent.
When I was a young kid, I was a challenge to my own parents because I was sick all the time. I had so many ear infections that I needed surgery to put tubes in my eardrums to prevent me from having more. I also had pretty severe asthma and was often either in a doctor’s office or at home getting breathing treatments. The asthma was so bad, that when I first started playing sports, I had to be the goalie in soccer or the catcher in baseball because running around in any other positions made it hard for me to breathe. But luckily, with the care of my pediatrician, the love and inspiration of my parents, and to be honest, time, I grew to be healthy enough by middle school and high school to play multiple sports, and I even took some pride in often being the fastest player on the team. J
But even though things turned out well, those early years were important in that I can look back now and totally understand how hard it is to be sick as a kid. I can completely recognize how difficult it is when an illness or a condition keeps you from doing what you love.
In that time, I also developed a great respect for my pediatrician and I knew that I wanted to do something with my life that would help other people.
Now of course, when I went to college, like most 18-year-olds, I didn’t know what exactly that “something” would be. But unlike many, it wasn’t because I had no idea—it was because I had too many ideas. Medicine was one thought, but so was education and law and writing. I even filled out an application to be astronaut. I kind of still want to be an astronaut! But I was lucky enough to have a few really great professors who turned me on to the science of medicine—they made it engaging and made it sing.(or: —they spoke to the nerd inside of me and made the choice of medicine more of a real possibility.)
But it was what happened in my freshman year of college that would change the course of the next several years of my life.
One weekend on campus, I saw the movie “Patch Adams.” And as sappy as some parts of it may have been, I was really touched and inspired by the idea that as a doctor I could be creative and could do more than just fix a disease, that I could also help a person feel joy. When I found out that Patch was a real person and was trying to build a free hospital, I decided to do some fundraising for it in some pretty nontraditional ways. Eventually, Patch himself got in touch with me and suggested that we meet in person. And together with some friends, we created a clown troupe of enthusiastic college students, and we’d go to hospitals, nursing homes, even just ride a loop on the metro, and we would try to bring laughter and fun to the people we met.
I tell you this story not so that you know that I’ve worn a red nose before or that I can work magic tricks into my checkups with kids. I also know that some people are deathly afraid of clowns—and I hope that you’re still here with me anyway! No, I’m telling you this because this experience showed me how important it is to connect with other people. To be wholly present with someone, to find out what that person needs in that moment, and how to give it to them. That is such an important lesson, not just for me as a doctor, but also for me as a parent. I have two kids and they are my everything. I spend so much time every day thinking about how I can care for them in the best way that I can, and a lot of times also wondering whether I’m doing the right thing.
In fact, I don’t think I ever doubted myself so much until I had kids. Modern parenting can have so much fear, so much worry. You can’t scroll through your Facebook feed without seeing a half dozen parenting articles saying that you’re doing it wrong. And if your child is sick, well a Google search is always going to give you the scariest answer.
In my work as a pediatrician and in the bone marrow program, I’ve seen a lot of fear and worry. And I’ve seen some families go through more sadness than I would wish on anyone. But I’ve also seen so much joy and happiness and wonder. And along the way, I’ve been lucky enough to have incredible mentors and colleagues who’ve trained me in how to help kids get and stay healthy so that they can experience that joy and wonder. And my goal with this podcast is to bring them and people like them, and most importantly, their wisdom, to you.
With The Child Repair Guide, I’ll interview the experts in child health, behavior, and wellness and cover the topics that matter to parents most—from how to keep your family healthy, to getting your kids to eat and sleep, to dealing with common illnesses and behavior problems . My goal is to bring these experts’ knowledge and insight to you in the most honest and engaging way that I can to give you the tools to better navigate the day-to-day challenges of what we all want to do as parents—raising happy, healthy kids.
And if you like what you hear—and I hope that you do!—then subscribe and leave a 5-star review on iTunes. Share these episodes with your friends and your family, especially if you know someone who might benefit from the topics we cover. To share any episode, go to drstevesilvestro.com/(the episode number). For example, to share this episode, which is Episode 0, you can go to drstevesilvestro.com/0. You can also check out drstevesilvestro.com/Podcasts for all of the shownotes for each episode, with links and information about my guests and any resources they recommend. You can also follow me on Facebook at Dr. Steve Silvestro, or follow me on Twitter and Instagram @zendocsteve.
So that’s it! I’ve got three amazing episodes already up for you to enjoy, and the plan is to have a new episode every week—featuring a new interview every other week, and solo episodes with me on the weeks in between. There are already some great guests and topics lined up…but this is your podcast—so if there are topics that you want to see covered, or if you know an amazing specialist, author, or leader in child health who you think should be on the show, then send me a tweet or email me at steve @ drstevesilvestro.com
In the meantime, “Be well, and have fun!”